Graphene, a crystalline allotrope of carbon, is reported to be a better electricity conductor than copper, 200 times stronger than steel, and six times lighter. Metal oxides can be attached to its surface to improve its energy storage functions.
Now China’s GAC Group has announced “breakthrough progress” with a graphene-based super-fast-charging battery, which the company says has entered the phase of vehicle testing. A version of the Aion V, a compact electric crossover produced by a subsidiary of the GAC Group has been equipped with the new battery, and is currently undergoing winter testing. It’s scheduled for mass production this September.
Graphene has been held back by its high cost—until recently, as much as several hundred dollars per gram. In July, the GAC Group demonstrated its 3DG (three-dimensional graphene) production technology, which reduces costs by a factor of ten.
GAC says its graphene-based battery has a 6C fast charge capability, which means that, using a 600 A high-power charger, it can be recharged to 80% capacity in 8 minutes. The battery has also passed the dreaded Battery Shooting Test.
In a September article for Investing News, Melissa Pistilli discussed some of the other industry players working on graphene battery tech. Back in 2014, an article from China’s Xinhua News Agency stoked rumors that Tesla was working on a graphene battery that could nearly double the range of its vehicles. Nothing more was heard of this until mid-2019, when Tesla acquired Maxwell Technologies, which was developing graphene supercapacitors. To date, there’s been no confirmation that Tesla has a graphene battery in the pipeline.
However, several other companies are pursuing the technology. Samsung is working on a “graphene ball battery” that could greatly reduce charging times. A Spanish startup called Earthdas has developed a graphene battery that it says can charge an electric motorcycle or bike in only five minutes. In early 2020, another Spanish firm, Graphenano, reported that it is working with a Chinese partner to develop a graphene polymer-based battery that would enable a range of up to 500 kilometers and a charging time of less than 5 minutes.